See A Little Light: Exclusive Darkness Divided Stream!

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: exclusive, featured On: Monday, August 18th, 2014

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To co-opt/augment Riki Rachtman’s old Headbanger’s Ball sign-off, on Written in Blood Darkness Divided has one foot in the metalcore gutter, one fist in the Between the Buried and Me/Devin Townsend-y gold. And for those who don’t reflexively hate the former, the latter will be a very welcome development indeed.

Anyway, here’s your chance to check out the band’s Victory Record debut in full one day before release. Want more? We’ve got the video for “The Hands That Bled” and a couple making-of segments after the jump…

Pig Destroyer Frontman J.R. Hayes Reflects on “Twin Peaks”

By: andrew Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs On: Monday, August 18th, 2014

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If you’ve been with us for a while, you surely remember our January 2008 issue, in which we not only bestowed Album of the Year honors on Pig Destroyer’s Phantom Limb, but talked to vocalist J.R. Hayes at length about major influence David Lynch. “With [Lynch], it’s like you’re watching paintings that move,” Hayes said at the time. “He could do a five-hour movie with no narrative and I’d be into it.” So, what better man to talk to for the Twin Peaks Project currently spreading across the internet. This article is part of a series of investigations, reflections and reminiscences by writers, artists and musicians who were influenced by David Lynch’s seminal television show Twin Peaks. To read more or to learn how you can participate, visit www.twinpeaksproject.com

I’m almost hesitant to write about Twin Peaks. I mean, I love it, it’s the shit and all that; it’s just that I know people whose TP knowledge blows mine out of the water. These people eat, breathe and shit Twin Peaks. They’ve shaken hands with Kyle Fucking MacLachlan. They’ve touched the Loglady’s actual log. They own not one, but two of the ultra-rare Leo Johnson commemorative ponytails. I don’t think those actually exist, but they should. My point is, only something truly unique and profound can inspire that kind of cultish passion and creepy devotion. Twin Peaks is less like a television show and more like a lucid dream or a voodoo spell.

Part 1 “It’s All Like Some Crazy Dream”

Most shows are in a hurry to shove you through the plot to the conclusion, but not this show. Twin Peaks would rather hypnotize you with long, suggestive shots of beautiful waterfalls and ghostly fir trees. It would rather pour you a nice hot cup of black coffee than tell you what the fuck is going on. Who killed Laura Palmer? Don’t worry about it, have another jelly donut. Twin Peaks is never in a hurry to do anything, except fuck your mind.

Most shows are too hung up on being realistic and believable, which usually translates to boring and predictable. David Lynch and Mark Frost sidestep this by boldly embracing absurdity and surrealism, putting the viewer on notice that anything could happen at anytime. Big Ed could turn into a 50 ft. praying mantis and eat the Double R Diner and you’re just going to have to roll with it.

There was an interesting piece in The Guardian a few years back, where Lara Flynn Boyle (Donna Hayward) talks about filming a scene in the pilot. She says that David Lynch told her to “Think of how gently a deer has to move in the snow.” Later, in the same article, Kimmy Robertson (Lucy Moran) says that Lynch “[would] get us into a circle and ask questions — it was like he was hypnotizing us.” At times, it seems like everyone on the show is overacting, but they are all overacting so well together that it moves beyond melodrama into something else entirely. Superdrama, maybe? I don’t know what it is, but it’s magnificent.

Part 2 “Mozart Is a Punk Bitch”

Anyone familiar with Lynch’s films knows that Angelo Badalamenti is his secret weapon, and his soundtrack for Twin Peaks may be his finest hour. It’s impossibly lush and warm and jazzy. It’s eerie and utterly horrifying. It’s so good, in fact, that it threatens to upstage the rest of the production.

This amazing composer deserves WAY more attention. In addition to his other work with Lynch, I highly recommend his soundtracks for Secretary and Arlington Road.

When that opening theme comes in, it’s like you’re falling into a giant fluffy bed full of NyQuil and Percocets. Relax, you are now under the Twin Peaks spell. Here, have a coffee and a slice of pie. And some incest.

Part 3 “The Haunting of Laura Palmer”

Usually, a victim in a murder mystery is more of a plot device than a character. Postmortem, they are quickly enshrined as an innocent, then promptly used as a vehicle for Matthew McConaughey to give a fiery closing argument or as a justification for Chuck Norris to sidekick 200 people in the head. There’s a shot in the pilot episode after the principal announces that Laura is dead, where they show the trophy case in the school lobby, and Laura’s picture is there in the center. Most of the time, that would be the last you’d see of poor Laura Palmer, but not on Twin Peaks, oh no.

Suddenly, the question isn’t just “who killed Laura Palmer?”; it’s also “who was Laura Palmer?” There’s a diary, and then a video, and then a tape, and then a fucking secret diary. Eventually, she’s brought back as Maddy the dopey lookalike cousin. Laura Palmer haunts the entire show like a poltergeist. Is she a homecoming queen? A devoted volunteer? A cokehead? A masochistic nymphomaniac? She’s all of those things and more; she’s the intersection of sex and violence, half kindness and half cruelty. She’s one of the most fascinating characters of the ’90s. Not to mention that Sheryl Lee is a fucking awesome actress, which brings me to…

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Part 4 “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me Is Some Dark, Dark Shit”

A lot of people hate this movie, including many hardcore devotees of the show, and to be fair, there is plenty of room for criticism (the mildly irritating presence of Chris Isaak; the unforgivable absence of Audrey Horne, for example), but Sheryl Lee’s performance here is one of those risky, daring, all-in, once-in-a-lifetime kind of performances, and she is just electric in every scene she’s in. When she screams, it cuts all the way down to your bones. Then Badalamenti decides to get dark as fuck and make you pee your pants. There’s no humor to be found in Twin Peaks this time around, only terror and insanity.

Part 5 “The Cliffhanger From Hell”

The infamous, hellish final episode. Crazy-ass David Lynch, absent for most of the second season directing Wild at Heart, parachutes in at the last minute to give you both barrels of his looney-gun in this deranged nightmare masquerading as network television. I mean, seriously, WTF David Lynch?

By all rights, Twin Peaks should never have happened. It’s a small miracle that it was even made, much less aired. The fact that it became part of mainstream American culture kind of makes my head hurt. National networks don’t usually hire real artists and then give them the freedom to indulge themselves like this. Maybe they should. Makes me wonder what Dallas would have been like with Jodorowsky at the helm, or if Cronenberg had been tapped to direct Airwolf. Ah, what could have been…

 

               

 

Aðalbjörn Tryggvason (Sólstafir) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, August 18th, 2014

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** Sólstafir have been roving the plains of Iceland for the better part of two decades. Though originally a black metal act, replete with corpsepaint, the Reykjavikians transformed into something else years later. We’re not entirely sure if Sólstafir are post-metal, post-rock, or post-themselves, but whatever genre of music they fall into, they’re entirely unique. No band, alive or dead, sounds like Sólstafir (even on a bad day). I interviewed e-bow wingnut Aðalbjörn Tryggvason for Decibel #120 (10 years!), but here’s the rest of the piece in good ‘ol Playboy Q&A fashion.

OK, let’s get this one out of the way first. I didn’t know Iceland has cowboys. Are they homegrown or did you import them from New Mexico?
Aðalbjörn Tryggvason: There are certain things that have always been associated with rock ‘n’ roll, tatts, boots, hats, ballads, guitars solos, bourbon whiskey, etc. We somehow have been more naturally drawn to these things than let’s say wearing khaki pants and reverse baseball caps.

On your last tour of the US you met with kids at a Junior High School. How’d that happen? It’s not like Sólstafir is a chart-topping artist in the states.
Aðalbjörn Tryggvason: Our manager’s mom is a school teacher, so while meeting her over lunch in the states this idea came up, and it was great. Some of those kids are from Camden, New Jersey, which is about the most dangerous place in the whole U.S., so they don’t often meet musicians from Europe talking about art and songwriting. It was a privilege having a musical lecture for those kids.

How does Ótta differ from Svartir Sandar?
Aðalbjörn Tryggvason: Well, we finally tried working with a string section, one of those things that we had discussed in the past, and even had some plans for Svartir Sandar, but the idea never made it further. I really wanted to go for softer vocals on this album. I don’t think more aggressive vocals would have fit this album. Apart from that it’s not really that different. We just made another album.

Were the songwriting sessions different from that of previous releases? I hear you often jam out the songs together instead of writing them individually.
Aðalbjörn Tryggvason: Yes, sometimes we have a song that lasts for 10 minutes consisting of one riff, more like few chords. We are not a very riff-oriented band. Then, of course, we add layers and edit here and there. It’s sorta written blindfolded. One day Sæþór [Maríus Sæþórsson] came up with this hook that we all know has to be played on a banjo, but it wasn’t played on a banjo until it was recorded. I drop my guitar down to A and off we go. And the opening song, “Lágnætti” was basically done in two days. Some piano sections came to my head. I hardly ever play the piano by the way. We jam around it, and the next day we basically had it, that was the last song we wrote for the album.

You premiered “Lágnætti” and “Ótta” for the world. Any reason why these two tracks were chosen as album teasers?
Aðalbjörn Tryggvason: I don’t know why, but for some reasons these are the “Battery” and “Master of Puppets” of this album in my mind. But I guess these two songs represent the album better than any other two, some of them are a bit obscure. There is a disco song there, and there is a full-blown piano ballad there, so…

Sólstafir relies a lot on the e-bow. What does the e-bow offer sonically to the songwriting process?
Aðalbjörn Tryggvason: Some interesting questions here. I guess it adds sonic isolation. It’s very distant, drowning in reverb, and, of course, only works on one string at the time. It fills a lot up, and when Sæþór is coming up with some bizarre chord structure it’s a nice simple answer to that. That works well together. Then again, it’s sort of a lead guitar device, sometimes it’s hard to restrain yourself ’cause it’s very easy to come up with cool parts while having a good e-bow sound. And that’s another thing. I swear to god that e-bow has a life of its own. Sometimes it just won’t sound the way I want it to, even though I’m driving it through the exact same signal flow as the day before, so it’s almost never the same. Close, but never the same. But we’re sorta addicted to e-bow, and we always travel with two of them.

Ótta translates to Fear or Fears. Where are you coming from lyrically on Ótta?
Aðalbjörn Tryggvason: That is the Google translate version you have there, but in our case, with the album title it’s the length of time equal to one-eighth of a solar day. Old Icelandic time plan.

Now that you’re getting attention from the rest of the planet are you inclined to change the lyrics from Icelandic to English? I guess Sigur Rós haven’t had too much of an issue…
Aðalbjörn Tryggvason: Nah, can’t see that happening. We have used English in the past, and might use it again, who knows? We were close to using English on the the Svartir Sandar album, and the album before that Köld is mostly in English. But this one was always meant to be in Icelandic. And people don’t really care that much. They see the voice a lot more like an extra instrument. And I must confess that I find it a lot more comfortable singing in my mother tongue while singing personal stuff from the heart. Of course, English is a lot more rock ‘n’ roll, so if we go back to the first question, I guess we’re skipping that part of classic rock. At least, for the time being.

Where do you see Sólstafir going from here musically?
Aðalbjörn Tryggvason: I don’t know, if you would have asked me that a year ago, I couldn’t have foreseen this album. We just raise our hands in the air like radio antennas and check out how the reception is for each day, and this time around it was Ótta.

** Sólstafir’s new album, Ótta, is out August 29th on Season of Mist. It can, and probably should, be ordered HERE.

For Those About to Squawk: Waldo’s Pecks of the Week

By: admin Posted in: a fucking parrot previewing new releases, featured On: Friday, August 15th, 2014

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Well, the editors of this told me “if you don’t have anything nice to squawk, don’t squawk anything at all.”So like you’re not going to be able to bear what I have to pecking say about this week’s major release, like can’t peck  it at all, Paul.

What time is it? MIDNIGHT release No Mercy for Mayhem, and well, it’s a Midnight record, that’s for sure. They really haven’t changed their sound up at all, and in this feathered opine, that’s a good thing. This is just pure headbanging fun. You should know how this sounds: trash can drums, heavily distorted bass, blown-out guitars and barked vocals all over a death rock, Venom-ish sort of gallop, with a little trad metal thrown in. I kinda like it, but you know, like, do we need another one of these releases out there?  I think this is keen, but not winning any points for originality. So… 5 Fucking Pecks.

Wow, this is loud. SEA OF BONES put out the 91-minute (?!?!) The Earth Wants Us Dead on Gilead. This is LOUD, like I said, but unlike the previous review, this thing has a bite to it. There are DEFINITE nods to Neurosis here, without sounding like a clone. This reminds you that life is a futile and pointless endeavor. This is doom, but punishing and raw, sometimes plodding, sometimes pretty, but always dark and constantly mean. The one drawback to this is that it’s sooooo long; it’s a lot to ask from the listener.  I am digging this, though. 6 Fucking Pecks.

All right, enough with doom for now. Are you ignorant as peck? And not in a slam metal sort of way? KING 810 is on your scene with Memoirs of a Murderer. This sucks; I’ll just say it. I mean, this is part Limp Bizkit, part Hatebreed and part Emmure.  Apparently they are from  Flint, Michigan, the most dangerous city in America. They perform with guns onstage, as well as yellow crime scene tape, and various members have been involved in an assortment of illegal activities.  But enough about the image: This is shitty mosh nu-metal. The biggest complaint is that the vocals feel VERY put-on, and the riffs are super pedantic, like something your high school nephew (or niece) may write on their first guitar. Total birdshit.  I wonder why they don’t spell it “KYNG 810,” though. The “Stitches” (note:  Stitches is good, though) of nu-metal. Not even good for a laugh. 1 Fucking Peck.

Tough To Untie: Exclusive Colombian Necktie Stream!

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: exclusive, featured On: Friday, August 15th, 2014

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Only a few days left until metallic hardcore levellers Colombian Necktie unleash the scary/sick debut full-length Twilight Upon Us, but for those who can’t wait we’ve got an exclusive stream of the track “Guiding Light” below:

Check out another track here. For more information visit Bandcamp, Twitter, and/or Instagram.

Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack: Finland’s Edge of Haze

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Friday, August 15th, 2014

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Because every day another band records another song.  Because 83% of those songs are unlistenable and you can’t be bothered to sift through the dreck.  Because metal is about not giving a shit and waking your own personal storm.  Because music is universal, expression is boundless, and even indie labels (whatever that means these days) don’t know everything, Decibel brings you Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack.

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The phrase “progressive elements” in a promotional blurb can, for the jaded and cynical among us, cause an almost mandatory smirk, narrowed glare and cocking of the head slightly to the left.  It can mean anything from multisectional songwriting to the use of keyboards, from djentrification to the splicing together of disparate musical forms.  Until the results are rendered, it’s hard to be sure what those two words mean.

Once the context words like “Finland” and “gothic rock” and “fans of Junius” take their place, it becomes much easier to discern the direction that Edge of Haze plan to take.  And so much the better.  Their second self-released full-length, Illumine, draws together the strongest qualities of melodic heavy music – commanding vocals, contemplative melodies amid emotive and truly muscular guitar rock, sky-high musical ambition that never loses sight of gut-thrumming ground.  Sure, the keyboards become prominent at times, and there’s some djent here, but the whole of Edge of Haze’s sound turns out to be quite a bit greater than the sum of these parts.

Now, a week before its official release, you can hear Illumine for yourself and find out from bassist Eero Maijala and percussionist Janne Mieskonen all about the band’s intent, process, and experience with, um, man-birth.  And if you like, check out the band on their Facebook and Bandcamp pages for more info.

Edge of Haze began life as Damage.  Can you talk about how that original version came together and what your vision was for it?  How did it grow into being Edge of Haze?

Janne: We formed the band as Damage with Eero in 2007 and were driven by the pure will to play and create music together. We’ve known each other for more than ten years so overall the project was about having fun and trying our limits. The music was more straightforward attitude metal with some alternative influence. After discovering bands like Katatonia and Swallow the Sun we began to write more atmospheric and experimental stuff and pushed the initial sound towards something completely new.

Eero: We became a full five-member band in 2010 and as a result we decided to change the band’s name for something more original and suiting the sound better. The spirit we had has lasted and above all all the band members are best friends with each other.

Janne: Yeah, all of us have been good friends before being in a band together.

Unlike many bands, Edge of Haze started recording music very quickly.  Was original music always a driving reason for the band?

Eero: Definitely! The two of us began writing our own songs with a crappy keyboard and a drum set sometime after we had first met. We recorded those songs into an old MP3 player and we still have that distorted jangle stored somewhere haha. Writing our own original music has always come naturally to us and we never really got into playing covers.

What would you say Edge of Haze is all about for you?  What do you hope it communicates to your audience?

Eero: Discovering, exploring and maintaining our own sound. Using every color of the palette when it comes to songwriting. Being as open-minded as possible band-wise.

Janne: Exactly. We’d like to convey our vision on good music and share the ideas we have behind the songs. I think our music has the ability to get you to a certain state of mind which is always cool. It’s also cool to try to visualize what we’ve been after music- and lyric-wise, for me each song on the new album has its own color and environment.

Do you think anything has changed in your approach since your last album?

Janne: We have expanded the field we operate in with more dynamics, rhythmic elements plus bigger production. I think the songs are more mature, better organized and more interesting than before.

Eero: Janne and I like to call the last album, Mirage, “nightclub metal”, as while listening it you feel like being in an old nightclub from the 50′s with jazz playing, Frank Sinatra etc. We don’t exactly know where this notion came from, I guess it’s just a vision in our heads from the ethereal vibe of the album. The Mirage nightclub is warm and cozy and not really dangerous in any way. As Mirage was like this casual jazz club, Illumine is that same club in a future dystopia. With decayed walls and abandoned hallways, with a lot more edge and danger. And with a very menacing atmosphere.

Janne: Yeah, as Mirage was more like a safe but vague selection of songs we had back then, Illumine is a clear uniform entirety. Each song has its role in the story.

Eero: It was also really cool to work with guys like Acle Kahney, who is primarily known from TesseracT and Tuomas Yli-Jaskari from Tracedawn. These guys really gave the album the sound we were looking for.

Do you have a specific approach to songwriting that you have used multiple times, or has the process been different for each song?  Can you describe that a little bit?  Is it an individual or collaborative process?

Eero: Now that I think about it the process on every song on Illumine was quite similar. Every member of the band has recording equipment at home, and one of us usually gives man-birth to an idea or a full song at his home and sends it to others. Then we begin to work on it, bounce off each others ideas and arrange the final version together as a band.

Janne: Nowadays we have five active composers in the band so all of us are involved in composing and it’s really cool to notice how we all share the same vision what Edge of Haze is supposed to sound like. Every one of us has their own style to contribute with but as we’ve known each other for so long we kinda end up making material that not only sounds like our own but also settles well together.

Do you think Illumine came from a particular emotional or philosophical place, or is each song its own entity?

Janne: Illumine came from the same foundation lyrically since it’s a concept album. I really enjoyed writing the story for I remotely see some association with me and the protagonist. The album is about finding yourself and daring to have an opinion, similar stuff which I’ve been dealing with in real life. I had the original idea for the album while spending a week in a cottage in the middle of wilderness. I had all the time in the world just to think about things and let ideas flow through my head. I somehow ended up imagining a city which represented all the limitations in the world and the place I was in, the wilderness, as the ultimate state of freedom. I really started liking the confrontation and so I made up the story about the transition between those two states. It’s simple, it’s universal and something you can identify yourself with and that’s why it works. I was also inspired by a book called Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden about a North Korean dissenter who had been living his whole life in a miserable prison camp but eventually had the courage to take the leap and attempt an escape. I think that is something to inspire every human.

Are there particular musical ideas you hope to explore more with Edge of Haze?

Eero: As Illumine was recorded almost a year ago, we have some new and unused material for the third record already! If I was to describe the new material I guess it focuses more on singing and little bit simpler song structures, something like Radiohead meets Gojira and Hans Zimmer [haha]. One thing that I’d love to do is to write a totally acoustic song for Edge of Haze in the future and on the other hand a crazy, fast song, kinda like “The Pyre” on Illumine but more twisted. This all is exciting for us too because we don’t yet know where this progress will take us but so far it seems really promising!

Janne: I would like to explore both making straightforward songs and in the other hand pieces that focus on the flow, atmosphere and dynamic building. It’s really exciting to notice how tenuous the limits are for an Edge of Haze song.

Do you have any specific plans/goals for Edge of Haze in the near future?

Eero: We definitely want to perform live more! We have some club gigs booked to support the album but we’d like to do more. So a tour in Finland or Europe would be fantastic.

Janne: There are a couple of music videos coming up too which will keep us busy at least during the fall, stay tuned for those on Youtube! Our singer and guitarist Markus and our good friend Olli Kiikkilä have some real talent on the visual side too and we want to utilize that as much as possible. And then of course we’ll keep on making new music as every member of the band is writing stuff for the new record already.

Eero: Every one of us has their own influences and an own style when it comes to writing music and it is always great to put these ingredients together and see what kind of mixture we’ll end up with!

The Deciblog Presents More “My Awesome Day Job” Content: USA Out of Vietnam Does a Secret Vegan Supper Club. Of Course.

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: exclusive, featured, gnarly one-offs, interviews, videos On: Thursday, August 14th, 2014

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In simplistic terms, I guess one would/could say USA Out of Vietnam is a space rock band. Actually, the Montreal outfit is a genre-defying entity that incorporates elements of everything from psychedelia, shoegaze and black metal to doom, noise rock and Angelo Badalamenti-sounding soundtrack stuff. The band has a new record out on New Damage called Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes which is fully representative of their sub-genre use, abuse and broadstroking. In the run up to the release of said debut full-length a couple of months ago, we were informed by their handlers that the band’s keyboardist/singer, Blankie had a day job that involved going cooking vegan meals for families in the homes of upper crust Montrealers. The reality is that while this has been a part of their repertoire, a bigger piece of their employment puzzle comes from the vegan supper club (Vegan Secret Supper) run out of locations in Montreal and New York. Still sounds like a pretty sweet gig to our ears, so in-between preparations of “romanesco soup, bruleed figs with bergamont, mango tamarind-battered cauliflower, white chocolate puff pastry, house-made root beer, date toffee chocolates and marbled cashew mousse” [all dishes from a recent Montreal menu] we poked around to ask what’s what.

Let’s start with some of your background. How long have you been a chef? Did you always specialise in vegan food? Any formal training?
I’ve been cooking for about seven years. Vegan has always been what I cook, as I learned to cook as a vegan basically. I have no formal training. I worked a restaurant one time in Vancouver as an on call fill in for a bit but have always been on my own.

I’ve been told you actually go into rich people’s homes and cook for them at their places. How did you fall into this line of work?
I actually cook at my home and people come to me. It’s [called Vegan Secret Supper and it's] like a supper club or an underground restaurant, if you will. Every once and a while, I cook at fancy people’s houses, but I truly would rather not and it’s quite awkward. Since I have lived and done VSS in a few cities, I travel a lot to do it. I was living in New York and some of those clients let me take over their house and do supper clubs back in New York when I [would] go down about once a month from Montreal.

When working for one family, would you work for them full-time or do you go from home/family to home/family? Do you cook all their meals or only if they’re having a dinner party or something?
Maybe not so applicable. Never been a private chef…though I was supposed to be Ben Stiller’s private chef this past spring in Vancouver, but I turned it down when I realized it wouldn’t just be me and Ben high-fiving in Whole Foods picking out granola together.

One of these folks knows how to make birch syrup glazed sourdough doughnuts filled with orange curd…
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What’s an easier work setting: someone’s private home or a restaurant?
Since I do most of the suppers at my home, that’s definitely the best. It’s comfortable for me, and you as a diner get the whole experience of being in my zone. I don’t like going to other homes because it’s like catering and I have to get everything ready and be scared I’m gonna burn the people’s fancy pots or break something. As for a restaurant, it’s a very different thing for sure; I haven’t done it much, but I’d say my house. Who doesn’t wanna just cook at home in your underwear? Ok, I totally don’t do that but the “feeling” is there.

Because you’re working right there and they know and see you, do you find the people you cook for to be not as overtly picky about some part of the meal that’s not to their liking as opposed to restaurant patrons who, because you’re in a more faceless position, will send food back and complain openly?
I think because it’s more of an experience to come into a house set up as a restaurant and because it’s vegan, vegan people are always so pumped to be there. It’s not like a restaurant where you have no idea what mood people are in and where they came from, maybe they’re in a rush or something, but my supper club is a plan they’ve made and if they weren’t excited to come they probably wouldn’t have come! I have never had food sent back.

What’s the most ridiculous meal you’ve ever been asked to make by any of your employers?
I wish I had a good answer for this. I guess I get requests when I do a private supper; like once I got, make me “yellow cake.” I know that’s a thing, but really have no idea the difference between white and yellow, really. Oh, this other guy once when I did a private supper in New York told me to “make sure to wash the greens well if you serve them”. Ok, dad.

Seeing as some of the people you work for have been described as “well-off,” what’s the most extravagant thing you’ve seen or experienced on the job?
The people who come to supper club range from kids like me to 86-year-olds who bused across town to the very wealthy. The mix of that is pretty cool to see all at one table in my house in Bed-Stuy. The “wash the greens guy” rolled up to his private supper with his case of wine in his Mercedes and asked me for a discount and to get another person in for free. I was like, ummm, no thank you.

Have you ever travelled with someone or a family as their private chef on a vacation or something like that?
Could have been Ben if he was lucky enough to have me.

Does anyone know you’re in a band? What happens when you leave to go on tour – do people starve or relapse and start going to Burger King three times a day until you get back?
I doubt anyone knows I’m in a band…I am a minimal talker cause if I talk to people to much I’ll just make an inappropriate joke. Yes, there is some sobbing. They get pats on the back.

Email interviews are convenient, but I always feel like I’m missing something. Is there anything else you feel needs mentioning or that I missed?
I dunno, there’s a website here if you wanna look at it. I had a book come out last year. Maybe it’ll give you a bit more info on what I actually do.

Vegansecretsupper.com
It’s on Facebook, too.
And Tumblr.

Oh, yeah, there’s a band to check out as well: USA Out of Vietnam
Watch their “Leg of Lamb” video:

Decibrity Playlist: Young Widows (Part 2)

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, August 14th, 2014

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Last week, we brought you the beginning of Evan Patterson’s “dark country and folk” playlist. In two-and-a-half years of doing these, it’s safe to say that his picks–most of which originated on 7″ singles–are some of the more obscure, yet fascinating, we’ve encountered. While Part 1 tackled tracks from 1956 to 1963 (don’t miss the fuzz on Marty Robbins’ “Don’t Worry”), Part 2 covers tunes from 1966 to 1971. Young Widows‘ guitarist/vocalist even threw in a bonus playlist that you can check out after perusing his 13 other selections. What a guy. While you’re at it, be sure to pick up a copy of his band’s latest LP, Easy Pain, here.

Fred Neil’s “The Dolphins” (from 1966′s Fred Neil)
While Fred Neil is more folk than country, his voice is as dark and as low as folk could get, and has gotten since. Even though he was a part of the Greenwich Village scene, I see him as being a bit more of a country singer. He wrote songs for Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison in the ’50s, and was a fill-in, on set singer for Elvis’s early films. “The Dolphins” is off Fred Neil’s self-titled third album, which features his more well-known number “Everybody’s Talkin’”. Later in 1969, “Everybody’s Talkin’” was made famous by Harry Nilsson. I like thinking that “The Dolphins” isn’t actually about dolphins, but after Fred Neil retired from music he moved to Florida to refocus his life on the preservation of dolphins. Wild. I’m betting most of his time was spent lounging on a sailboat until he died of skin cancer in 2001.

Nancy Sinatra’s “Lightning’s Girl” (from 1967′s “Lightning’s Girl”/”Until It’s Time For You To Go” 7″ single)
The first time I heard “Lightning’s Girl”, I was floored by its arrangement and production. The kick drum might be the best sounding recording of a kick drum I’ve heard. The dark fuzz guitar, string section, choogling bass line, king-of-the-jungle operatic background singing and the threatening lyrics are a combination unlike any other. The powerful and direct Nancy Sinatra, daughter of Frank, doesn’t beat around the bush with Lee Hazlewood’s pitchfork in her hands. They were out to kill with this song, and kill they did. “Lightning’s Girl” is a theatrical song and again, Hazlewood has no rules or guidelines with his writing or production. A Billy Strange arrangement and an absolutely epic country song.

Mickey Newbury’s “How Many Times (Must The Piper Be Paid For His Song)” (from 1968′s Harlequin Melodies)
Mickey Newbury…well, he just dropped in to be one of the most prolific songwriters to ever walk the face of this tiny planet. He has influenced many, many artists and songwriters. His legacy will continue to influence many, many more. In this song, the tension between the hollow percussive plucked fiddle strings and Mickey’s charred dense voice is unlike any I’ve felt while listening to a song. “How Many Times” is off Mickey’s debut album Harlequin Melodies. From beginning to end, a perfect country album.

Roy Drusky’s “Such A Fool” (from 1969′s My Grass Is Green)
Roy Drusky had too many records. I discovered him last year when I purchased his New Lips album for a dollar. From what I can tell, the album is a collection of singles that came out in 1969 and prior. It features “Jody and the Kid”, one of the first Kris Kristofferson songs to ever be recorded. When Drusky stretches out “Such a Foooooooooool,” I can’t help but smile.

Jody Reynolds’ “Endless Sleep” (from 1969′s “Endless Sleep”/”My Baby’s Eyes” 7″ single)
Like Sanford Clark’s “The Fool”, “Endless Sleep” is a bit of a rockabilly country crossover. The original 1958 version actually features the same guitarist as “The Fool”, Al Casey, who was a sidekick to Lee Hazlewood on his early productions. I prefer the darker, more haunting and reverb drenched harmonica 1969 version of this song. I can only imagine that this is a true reflection of Reynolds’ tiresome attitude–he had to be sick to death of performing the song for well over a decade. A group from Vancouver called The Poppy Family did an even darker cover version of “Endless Sleep” in 1969 that I might enjoy more, but it doesn’t fit this playlist’s theme. The 1958 version was Jody Reynolds’ first single and his second was the song “Fire of Love”, which later was covered by MC5 and The Gun Club. The Gun Club even named its album after the song. Reynolds eventually started working with Hazlewood and in the late ’70s had signed on to write songs for this singer named Elvis, but Elvis died just before recording any of Reynolds’ tunes.

Karen Dalton’s “Same Old Man” (from 1971′s In My Own Time)
Like Fred Neil, Karen Dalton is a Greenwich Village folk artist. The song was arranged by Steve Weber. Weber was a founding member of The Holy Modal Rounders. The droning strings, the traditional banjo and her incredible creeping voice together make a sound that I can’t get enough of. “Same Old Man” is from her album In My Own Time. The album is more upbeat, bluesy folk–it’s great, but “Same Old Man” is a truly unique folk song that will be held timelessly above the rest.

Bonus playlist of inspiring voices:

Love’s “Signed D.C.” (from 1966′s Love)
Captain Beefheart’s “Blabber ‘N Smoke” (from 1972′s The Spotlight Kid)
Roxy Music’s “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” (from 1973′s For Your Pleasure)
Iggy Pop’s “Mass Production” (from 1977′s The Idiot)
Public Image Ltd.’s “Flowers of Romance” (from 1981′s The Flowers Of Romance)
Wipers’ “Romeo” (from 1983′s Over The Edge)
Crime & The City Solution’s “Hunter” (from 1988′s Shine)
Scott Walker’s “Face On A Breast” (from 1995′s Tilt)
The For Carnation’s “Emp. Man Blues” (from 2000′s The For Carnation)
Smog’s “Song” (from 2001′s Rain On Lens)
Angels of Light’s “Evangeline” (from 2001′s How I Loved You)
Mark Lanegan’s “Hit The City” (from 2004′s Bubblegum)

*Photo by Amber Estes Thieneman

**Pick up a copy of Young Widows’ Easy Pain here and check them out on the following dates opening for Minus The Bear:

10/21 Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop
10/22 Detroit, MI – Magic Stick
10/23 Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge
10/24 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock
10/25 Des Moines, IA – Wolly’s

***For past Decibrity entries, click here

Metal Yoga With André Foisy #4

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, tv, videos On: Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

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André Foisy plays guitar in Locrian and is a certified yoga instructor who teaches in Chicago, including a monthly candlelit yoga event set to dark ambient metal. You can find his yoga teaching schedule and more information about him on his website, Facebook page, and you can find past instructional videos on his YouTube channel.

This post is about a pose that feels like a massage that just about anyone can do just about anywhere: shoulder shrugs.

People that sit at desks a lot, drive a lot, or carry heavy amplifiers around often round the shoulders forward, which tends to weaken the upper and mid-back muscles. [If you look at metal band promo photos, then you’ll probably notice a lot of people that round their shoulders forward.] When the upper and mid-back muscles get weak, then people tend to get neck pain and tight shoulders.

Shoulder shrugs will gently strengthen the upper and mid-back muscles and help to to increase shoulder mobility and release tension in the shoulders, neck and back.

Watch this video to learn how to do the pose properly.

Tips:
• Don’t push the head forward; keep the back of your skull bones over your sacrum;
• Keep the chin parallel to the floor, so that the neck doesn’t strain;
• Keep the arms relaxed so that this pose isolates the upper back and shoulder muscles;
• Don’t round the shoulders forward between rounds

Do this a lot and notice how you feel. Specifically, if you do this frequently, then notice how your range of feeling and movement changes over time.

Sucker For Punishment: Tumbleweeds

By: Adrien Begrand Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

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It’s another light week for new releases, and mercifully so for yours truly, who is currently recovering from a hot and loud weekend at Heavy Montreal, where the likes of Metallica, Slayer, Twisted Sister (who totally ruled), Voivod, Municipal Waste, Exodus, and dozens more bands played to around 40,000 people over two days. Fellow Decibel contributor Kevin Stewart-Panko could not have disagreed more in regards to Babymetal’s performance – you can probably guess which one of us dug it – but we both agreed that the kids in Unlocking the Truth just might be the real deal after all. Anyway, be sure to catch his recap in Decibel the magazine soon.

In the meantime, although there are a few decent albums this week, they’re all eclipsed by my non-metal choice this week, which is a major Album of the Year contender. And besides, one of the best metal albums of 2014 comes out next week, so you might want to save your hard-earned cash for that one.

Abysmal Lord, Storms Of Unholy Black Mass (Hells Headbangers): The problem with this most primitive form of death metal is not the atmosphere, these Louisiana guys have that suffocating, dank atmosphere nailed. No, the real crux is the fact that the guitars sound so dense in this deliberately lo-fi production that the second the music kicks into blastbeat-driven sections, all sense of melody disappears. Contrast that with the band’s brilliant, Asphyx-style doom passages, and it becomes frustrating. Your mind subconsciously follows that melodic pattern, than the whole thing speeds up, all sense of melody vanishes, and you’re lost. I love you, Hells Headbangers, but I can’t fully recommend this one.

Atara / Miserable Failure, Hang Them (Kaotoxin): Personally I find Atara to be the more interesting of these two French bands on this split release, their form of grindcore is more controlled, disciplined and metal than the manic, punk-derived Miserable Failure, leaning more towards the crusty, old-timey Brutal Truth side of the genre. Still, though, these two bands complement each other very well on this release.

Evil United, Honored By Fire (MVD): Led by vocalist Jason McMaster, who us old-timers remember best as the leader of sleaze rockers Dangerous Toys, Evil United focuses more on classic speed metal, combining double-time tempos, thrashy rhythm riffs and flashy harmonies, and vocal histrionics like classic Exciter and Helstar. Aside from the odd regression into metalcore breakdowns, which are frankly beneath these guys, this is a surprisingly good, not to mention energetic release.

Funerary, Starless Aeon (Midnite Collective): This relatively new band from Phoenix focuses on the more outwardly horrific side of doom metal, with plenty of ultra-low notes and riffs plodding along like the most morbid of funeral processions. Interestingly, though, is a stateliness to the music that’s very reminiscent of Neurosis, bringing mournful gravitas to all the gimmickry, giving the music substance and depth. They’re not quite fully there yet, but a track like “Beneath the Black Veil” shows they’re well on their way. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

Grifter, Return Of The Bearded Brethren (Ripple): Swaggering, swinging, groovy heavy metal, much like Orange Goblin but featuring singing, which will endear these Brits to the Clutch crowd. It’s very good stuff, although if you ask me I will always prefer The Grifters to Grifter.

John 5, Careful With That Axe (60 Cycle Hum): Typical of most solo albums by metal shredders, this is all noodling all the time, but what separates John 5 from the rest is just how playful he makes it all sound. There plenty here to make Guitar World readers and Guitar Center loiterers salivate, but to folks who couldn’t care less about technique, this album manages to keep the mood light and fun, veering from style to style with a manic energy that often resembles that of Devin Townsend.

Rabbits, Untoward (Lamb Unlimited): The Portland noise band is at it again, churning about abrasive, often obnoxious compositions that bear an uncanny resemblance to Melvins and Harvey Milk. Sludgy, sloppy yet deceptively clever, and always, always ugly. So ugly, in fact, that you kind of want to come up for air afterwards, just go outside and enjoy some sun. The mood on this record is that sour, and in this band’s case, mission accomplished. They’ve come to ruin your day.

Slaughterday, Ravenous (FDA Rekotz): The likeable German band follow up last year’s fun Nightmare Vortex with an EP’s worth of, once again, no-frills death metal in the early-‘90s Swedish tradition, pulled off in very convincing fashion.

Upon a Burning Body, The World Is My Enemy Now (Sumerian): Kiddiecore as instantly forgettable as this band’s name.

Not metal, but totally worth hearing:

FKA Twigs, LP1 (XL): Sometimes it’s easy to cynically gauge hype as simply the product of a collective hive mind, but once in a rare while the buzz surrounding a new artist is simply because the level of talent on display is undeniable. Singer-songwriter Tahlia Barnett, whose work under the moniker FKA Twigs has been generating more and more interest over the last 12 months, has delivered on the promise of her early work with an astonishing debut album that combines the glitchy, poppy charm of Grimes with the murky sexuality of Tricky’s classic Maxinquaye, yet is so unconventional, “Pendulum”, “Lights Off”, “Closer”, and “Two Weeks” coming across as a wholly original product of a wicked, vivid imagination.

Follow me on Twitter at @basementgalaxy